In thinking about my own StoryJacking, it’s come to me that I have had dozens if not hundreds of StoryJacks in my life.
In an effort not to overwhelm, I think what I am going to do is just start with one at a time.
As things come up I will add a personal StoryJack to the podcast series, that seems important or relevant to whatever is going on, or that I am trying to explore. You can listen to an expanded version of this blog on my podcast, “How StoryJacking Helped me Love.”
One insight that I have had is that the more that we look at our lives as transformative StoryJacks, the more likely we are to learn from the experiences versus being dragged down by them.
I have an ordinary story in some very universal ways. My parents divorced when I was 9, and while their marriage wasn’t great, the fighting was disturbing emotionally, the divorce more importantly disrupted my sense of security. This might be a terrible thing for some people, but for me it was my first wake up call.
Then life added the loss of my favorite grandfather, and a sister/friend who died from cancer when she was 19 and I was 12, all adding to my journey. I don’t know if it is about my personality, or my need to feel some sort of control, instead of seeing these losses as tragedy alone, I also began to see that death had a very real presence in life and that I didn’t want to take people or life for granted. These early StoryJacks set me up to continue the process through each adventure and tragedy that has rolled through my life.
The StoryJack that I want to share today is about finding love and growing relationships.
Through my journey of questioning I realized that I had no clue what a healthy relationship might even look like, I wasn’t paying attention to good relationships, I was only looking at the dysfunctional ones that were everything I didn’t want. So, I shifted focus, I looked to my grandparents who had a 50+ year relationship and were in love until the day each of them passed on;
What had worked for them?
- They valued their relationship more than they valued being right.
- They maintained their friendship their entire relationship, they never forgot they liked each other.
- They laughed and shared a sense of humor, sure they groused at each other, but they found ways to turn that into laughter.
- They shared some really important values about life, and they talked about those values, they discussed what the value meant to them, what the value looked like, how they felt when they were demonstrating the value, and they knew that they were in agreement, not just about a word, but about the meaning of the word.
- And this is crucial if I say I have a value of “honesty,” and you say, I do too! and we go on and only find out later that my value of honesty and your value of honesty were a 100 miles apart. On the surface of the planet a 100 miles isn’t much, but in the intimacy of a close relationship it might as well be the moon, we are worlds apart.
- The areas that each struggled with shyness, or being bossy, the other one either accepted or helped to balance out. They complimented each other in their personalities and human frailties. These were not personality quirks were deal breakers for them; in fact they had no deal breakers in their relationship at all.
- They both really wanted to be in a relationship with each other. My grandparents were ‘all in’ versus one foot out the door. A lot can be muddled through if both people are invested in the relationship working. We tend to be kinder in our approach if we care about the other person and want to keep them around.
- They both took responsibility with each other and worked really hard not to hurt each other’s feelings. When it happened, they apologized and took ownership, and tried not to press the repeat button too often.
- And, when I asked my mother about my grandparents relationship, she said they didn’t hold grudges with each other, there were no resentments and no hidden agendas. They were fully and honestly present with each other.
The more I thought about what relationships could look like, the more I was willing to risk to grow into the person that could bring these qualities to a relationship of my own. I wasn’t going to settle, I was going to soar. I also decided that I wanted to find a partner, not a savior or a project. That was huge for me, because I had to give up these ideas of Prince Charming or Prince Project.
There was no one coming to take me away from the tough things happening in my life. If I was going to get out of debt, or finish school, or find love, or create a meaningful life for myself, I was going to have to quit waiting around for it to find me and go out and create it.
I also had to give up on the idea that if only ‘someone’ would see my value and my worth, and chose me, I could help him have an amazing life. I realized I needed to save myself, and work to find an equal. If this resonates for you at all, I wrote an article on my blog called, “Sleeping Beauty Must Die! Why you need to kill her to grow up.” I talk a lot more in depth about this issue.
I made another pivotal StoryJack as I dated, 180 dates over two years, where I went from worrying “do you liked me?” to assessing if I liked you. This was huge! It meant, I not only had to stop wrapping myself up in the idea that someone could define my value for me, I had to stop twisting myself into a pretzel to make myself into someone I wasn’t in order for someone I wasn’t even sure I liked to love me. Simply put, I had to learn to love myself.
All of what I was learning meant I would have to be honest about who I am, learn to love myself, get comfortable just being myself, and trust that I was enough. If I worked at being someone I would like, then the people who like people like me, would find me. And maybe I would meet the one who was strong enough to handle a real relationship himself. Mr. Lucky 181.
Through this journey of revising and transforming my ideas about myself, what I was capable of, what love authentically looked like for me, and what a real ‘all in’ relationship required, I did meet someone who fell in love with the “me” I had become along the way.
For the past 17 years, he has shown up and loved me and I have shown up and loved him back. When we are being silly, or annoying, insightful, my bossiness, his being wrong, (being silly here) and we have discussed and agreed, and agreed to disagree, on our share of important ideas and values. We have learned to understand each other and agree that we know what we mean when we discuss these values, and we have learned to laugh at ourselves and at each other… but that will have to wait because that is another story, my friends.
Quick link to the expanded podcast version of this blog.
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